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Amp'd Mobile Faces $100K Fine over Call Records Security

The Federal Communications Commission is proposing a $100,000 fine against Amp'd Mobile Inc., the wireless phone company aimed at the youth market, for failing to protect consumers' personal calling records from thieves.

The proposed fine is at least the fourth such action since January by the FCC against U.S. companies for failing to comply with rules requiring that consumer phone records be protected by internal safeguards. The FCC promised "aggressive, substantial steps" to crack down on phone companies that fail to protect such records.

Amp'd Mobile assured the FCC in a letter in February that its internal procedures protect customer phone records but did not specify those procedures. The company did not return telephone messages and e-mails The Associated Press left Wednesday at its Los Angeles headquarters, its Washington lawyer's office and its public relations firm.

The proposed fine, announced Tuesday, comes in the wake of disclosures that detectives hired by Hewlett-Packard Co. -- and a myriad of other so-called "data brokers" -- routinely acquire personal phone records by impersonating customers targeted in private investigations and billing collection cases.

Congress formally outlawed the practice, known as "pretexting," earlier this year.

"Consumers are increasingly concerned about the security of their sensitive, personal data that they must entrust to their various service providers, whether they are financial institutions or telephone companies," the FCC said.

The FCC also proposed $100,000 fines in January against Cbeyond Communications LLC, AT&T Inc. and Alltel Corp.

The FCC gave Amp'd Mobile 30 days to provide more information to avoid the $100,000 fine or request a lower fine. Amp'd annual sales are estimated to be about $5.1 million.

Amp'd Mobile is a national wireless provider aimed at the youth market and offers games, music and videos that can be downloaded onto its cellular phones.

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